December 24, 2014

Our annual Christmas Garland, from Max Beerbohm

From "Of Christmas, by H*ll**re B*ll*c"

[T]here is nothing like verse to clear the mind, heat the blood, and make very humble the heart. Rouse thee, Muse!

One Christmas Night in Pontgibaud
(Pom-pom, rub-a-dub-dub)
A man with a drum went to and fro
(Two merry eyes, two cheeks chub)
Nor not a citril within, without,
But heard the racket and heard the rout
And marvelled what it was all about
(And who shall shrive Beelzebub?)
He whacked so hard the drum was split
(Pom-pom, rub-a-dub-dum)
Out lept Saint Gabriel from it
(Praeclarissimus Omnium) 1
Who spread his wings and up he went
Nor ever paused in his ascent
Till he had reached the firmament
(Benedicamus Dominum). 2

That's what I shall sing (please God) at dawn to-morrow, standing on the high, green barrow at Storrington, where the bones of Athelstan's men are. Yea,

At dawn to-morrow
On Storrington Barrow
I'll beg or borrow
A bow and arrow
And shoot sleek sorrow
Through the marrow.
The floods are out and the ford is narrow,
The stars hang dead and my limbs are lead,
But ale is gold
And there's good foot-hold
On the Cuckfield side of Storrington Barrow.

This too I shall sing, and other songs that are yet to write. In Pagham I shall sing them again, and again in Little Dewstead. In Hornside I shall rewrite them, and at the Scythe and Turtle in Liphook (if I have patience) annotate them. At Selsey they will be very damnably in the way, and I don't at all know what I shall do with them at Selsey.

Such then, as I see it, is the whole pith, mystery, outer form, common acceptation, purpose, usage usual, meaning and inner meaning, beauty intrinsic and extrinsic, and right character of Christmas Feast. Habent urbs atque orbis revelationem. Pray for my soul.

Notes cribbed from this source:
1 - The most excellent of all
2 - Let us praise the Lord

Past garlands are here...


Post a Comment

<< Home